What does Exodus 2:21 mean?
ESV: And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah.
NIV: Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage.
NASB: And Moses was willing to live with the man. And he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses.
CSB: Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage.
NLT: Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife.
KJV: And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
NKJV: Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.
Verse Commentary:
This verse connects the visit of Moses with his decision to stay in Midian. Despite fleeing a palace, and all he had known growing up in Egypt, Moses was "content" to live with Reuel and his family. Second, Moses married Reuel's daughter Zipporah. She is mentioned by name only two other times in Scripture. In Exodus 4:25 Zipporah circumcised their son. In Exodus 18:2 Zipporah is noted as having traveled home from Moses in Egypt to her father, clearly for safety reasons. She would rejoin him in the wilderness after the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 18:5–6). In that same passage, we learn that Reuel was also known as Jethro.

This would become the context of Moses' life for the next forty years. He would live with his wife and the rest of Reuel's family in Midian, serving as a shepherd. Acts 7:29 describes this time, saying, "… Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons." God would use these quiet years to prepare Moses for his future calling. Moses would one day lead people, not sheep, bringing the Jewish people from slavery into a new land.
Verse Context:
Exodus 2:11–22 describes how Moses went from the adopted son of an Egyptian princess to an exiled shepherd living in Midian. As an adult, Moses defends a fellow Jew by killing an Egyptian aggressor. Moses is shocked to find that his attempt to hide the act failed, and he is forced to flee Egypt. In Midian, Moses heroically defends a group of shepherd girls, and is welcomed into their family. This establishes the backdrop of Moses' life for one of God's most dramatic encounters with man: the burning bush.
Chapter Summary:
Amid an order from Pharaoh to murder newborn Hebrew boys, Moses' mother places him in a basket along the side of the river, staging her daughter there to observe. The Egyptian king's daughter sees the baby and has pity. Thanks to the presence of Moses' sister, the princess winds up paying Moses' own mother to wean him. After this, he is raised in the home of Egypt's royal family. As an adult, Moses unsuccessfully attempts to hide his murder of an abusive Egyptian and flees to Midian as an exile. As Moses builds a family abroad, Israel cries out to God for rescue from the brutality of Egyptian slavery.
Chapter Context:
Exodus chapter 2 introduces the character of Moses, after describing the plight of Israel under Egyptian slavery. This passage provides a few interesting ironies. Primarily, the Egyptian king attempts to oppress Israel through infanticide; this very command leads to his own daughter adopting an abandoned Hebrew boy—Moses. She provides him with support and education, essentially raising the future liberator of the very people her father seeks to control. After chapter 2 establishes Moses' exile from Egypt, chapter 3 will begin narrating his call to lead the nation of Israel out of captivity under the Pharaoh.
Book Summary:
The book of Exodus establishes God's covenant relationship with the full-fledged nation of Israel. The descendants of Abraham prosper after settling in Egypt, only to be enslaved by a fearful, hateful Egyptian Pharaoh. God appoints Moses to lead the people out of this bondage. Moses serves as God's spokesman, as the Lord brings plagues and judgments on Egypt, leading to the release of Israel.
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